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Thinking beyond the box – Angela Sefton Back to 'Case Studies'

Angela Sefton has merged a passion for art and photography with a love of vintage art. With help from a business mentor, she’s taking her gallery to the world.

Angela’s business, Black Box Art Studio & Gallery, comprises a gallery – in both physical and online formats, as well as art creation and a selection of original restored vintage New Zealand art and collectables under the Fantail Collection brand.

Like many artists, Angela was finding the necessary self-promotion required to grow her brand tough, and was referred to the Business Mentor programme by one of Venture Taranaki’s business advisors to help boost this aspect of her burgeoning business.

“Having a mentor who is not part of my family or a friend has meant they’re not afraid to ask me the hard questions,” Angela says.

“My mentor has been able to look at my business from a fresh viewpoint, helping me develop both my long term goals and short term needs, and has given me honest, practical and useful advice.”

“One great idea she has given me is to separate and grow the two aspects of my business independently – developing my own art practice as Black Box Art Studio and Gallery, and independently growing The Fantail Collection’s sale of vintage art. It’s something I am now working toward.”

Angela’s mentor first encouraged her to look at art competitions to help raise her profile, something she has done to great effect, winning the Lsyaght Watt Trust Art Award and gaining both profile and a boost to her confidence.

Another area that Angela’s mentor has encouraged her to focus on is auditing and enhancing her website.

“One of the biggest challenges in Taranaki is overcoming geographic isolation to connect the many talented artists we have here with genuine buyers. The internet can help overcome this challenge, but it is hard to convert “likes” and “followers” into actual sales.”

“The website audit has identified that I can make my site more streamlined for customers, and my mentor has been able to draw on her experience to help me use many retail strategies, like profiling my customers, asking for feedback and looking at different gallery layout ideas,” Angela says.

“Working with a business mentor has helped me evaluate which strategies are getting the best results.”

Pricing her art work is another aspect of the business that Angela finds hard, though again has been working with her mentor on strategies to manage this.

“Everyone may love what you do, but by the time you pay for archival printing, framing, commission, GST, and entry or hanging fees, your profit margin doesn’t always reflect the hours of work you’ve put in. It can feel like the work of the artist is easily undervalued.”

In response, Angela and her mentor are looking at a number of exciting opportunities to build her brand and diversify her income streams, while firmly flying the flag of New Zealand art.

“My mentor has been invaluable, and I’m really excited about where Black Box Art Studio & Gallery is now heading.”

  Thinking beyond the box – Angela Sefton  

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